Where Did the Modern Sports Car Come From?

By Colin Wood
Aug 28, 2020 | Datsun, Mazda, Porsche, Triumph

The Mazda Miata, Porsche Boxster and Honda S2000 may all be great examples of the "modern sports car," but when was that idea born? How did we get from wire wheels and ox-cart suspensions to lightweight alloys and independent suspensions?

There may not be a clear moment in time when that switch happened, but there are a few models that might just might be the missing link between then and now: the Datsun 240Z, Triumph TR7, Porsche 924 and Mazda RX-7.

Read about the birth of the modern sports car—and even a few honorable mentions—over on Classic Motorsports. But before clicking that link, what car do you best feel represents the gap between then and now? 

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View comments on the GRM forums
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
8/28/20 12:07 p.m.
Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/28/20 12:18 p.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

Yes it is. Not sure what happened here.

Thanks for catching that.

frenchyd PowerDork
8/28/20 12:30 p.m.

It wasn't between manufactures rather a developments. 
In 1949 MG had leaf springs front and rear with tall 19 inch wire wheels.  Lousy brakes steering that was recycling ball.  Cork faced clutch. 
The next year they had a box frame with full independent  front suspension,  rack and pinion steering,  15 inch pressed steel wheels, an improved rear end, a bigger modern clutch  and the steering wheel on the correct side for most of the world. 

In 1961 Jaguar had the XK 150   A separate frame and body, 16 inch wire wheels A straight rear axle  and leaf springs. 

That fall the XKE was introduced  over 500 pounds lighter full independent suspension front and rear Monique chassis construction and an honest 150 mph top speed. ( not to mention a body that Enzo Ferrari said was the most beautiful ever made)

To be Fair Datsun patterned it's 240Z after the Jaguar XKE and while the price of those has increased it's not near the $185,000 nice versions of the Jaguar XKE are commanding  


Miata basically copied ( and improved on ). A Lotus Elan.  So everybody developed and improved on predecessors. 

Tom1200 Dork
8/28/20 1:38 p.m.

For me a modern sports car is one that doesn't demand sacrifices beyond the two seats.

The 240Z was no more fussy than a 510 and you could even get it with A/C. Basically it's to sports cars what Iggy Pop is to punk rock.





Jordan Rimpela (FS)
Jordan Rimpela (FS) GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/28/20 1:50 p.m.

Mk. I Spitfire?

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